The Bing sale that never was: Insights into Apple and Microsoft’s secret talks

Priya Walia

Bing celebrity mode

According to a recent report from Bloomberg, executives from Microsoft and Apple came together in 2020 to discuss the possibility of a sale of Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. However, it seems that these talks never progressed beyond the exploratory phase, suggesting that Apple’s top brass, including Eddy Cue, who was involved in the meetings, was not seriously interested in pursuing the idea.

The report confirms that the ‘lucrative deal’ between Apple and Google played a significant role in maintaining the status quo. However, Apple reportedly had concerns about Bing’s ability to compete with Google in terms of quality and capabilities.

This echoes Eddy Cue’s previous testimony, where he stated that “there wasn’t a valid alternative to Google at the time” of the original deal and that no worthy competitor has emerged since then. Apple is believed to generate over $20 billion annually from its arrangement with Google, which ensures the search giant’s position as the default search engine on iOS and iPad.

Although Bing had its chances, as Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman points out, it was the default search engine for Siri and Spotlight searches for several years, starting with iOS 7. Some saw this as a potential precursor to a significant shift, yet Apple ultimately maintained the status quo by continuing to use Google search results in Safari.

There were meetings in 2016 between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella regarding a potential new deal that could have led to significant changes. However, these discussions did not materialize into a fully-fledged agreement. Despite the occasional talks and experiments, it seems that Bing remains in the shadows, unable to make a breakthrough as a serious competitor to Google.